Internet Crimes Against Children Rise During COVID-19 Pandemic

Montgomery County police has seen a rise in internet crimes against children during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to authorities.

The Special Victims Investigations Division – Child Exploitation Unit notes the rise of crimes that include the sending and receiving of child pornography, sexual exploitation of children, and children being blackmailed for money after sending nude images of themselves to strangers online.

The Maryland Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force involves police departments across the state and is comprised of investigators who focus on identifying those suspects involved in child pornography via the internet and identifying suspects involved in related crimes that victimize children.

Investigators want to remind parents and guardians to talk with their kids about safe internet and social media usage. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has many resources available to educate adults and children on safe use of the internet.

Authorities suggest that parents and guardians monitor their children’s social media accounts and know the passwords so that they can periodically examine them. Police also say that it’s important to remember that “in many cases of child exploitation, a child believes the person on the other end of the conversation is someone his/her own age, while the person is actually an adult.”

MCPD urges any parent or guardian who discovers that their child has been involved in inappropriate communication with a stranger on the internet should report it by calling the police non-emergency number at 301-279-8000 and immediately preserve the conversations on the child’s electronic device. Incidents can also be reported online to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children on this website.

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About Brendan Hartlove

Brendan Hartlove is a senior broadcast journalism major at the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism. In September 2020, he joined Montgomery Community Media as an intern. At the University of Maryland, Brendan has been a sports play-by-play broadcaster, news anchor, video reporter, writer, and podcast host. In May 2020, Brendan was recognized as the #5 most outstanding collegiate sports broadcaster in the nation by the 2020 Jim Nantz Award.

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